Mandatory and Discretionary Rate Relief

Mandatory Relief

Mandatory rate relief can be awarded to both occupied and unoccupied property. Property that is occupied by a charity or trustees of a charity, and is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes will be granted 80% of the mandatory relief.

Where the property is unoccupied and the ratepayer is a charity or trustees for a charity, and it appears that when next in use, the property will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes, the liability is 10%.

Definition of a charity

A charity is an institution or other organisation established for charitable purposes only, or any persons administering a trust for charitable purposes only. Most charities will be registered with the Charity Commission.

The following organisations are exempt from registration:

  • The Church Commissioners and any institution administered by them;
  • Any registered society within the meaning of the Friendly Society Acts 1896-1974;
  • Boy Scouts and Girl Guides Associations;
  • Voluntary schools within the meaning of the Education Acts 1944-1980 and having no permanent endowment other than the school premises.

A charity shop will be entitled to mandatory relief if:

  • It is wholly or mainly used for the sale of goods to the charity; and
  • If the proceeds of the sale of the goods are used for the purposes of the charity.

Discretionary Relief

This relief can be applied to both occupied and unoccupied liabilities. In order for discretionary relief to be applied, any of the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • The ratepayer is a charity or trustees for a charity and the property is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.
  • The property is occupied by organisations which are not established or conducted for profit and whose main objects are charitable or are otherwise philanthropic or religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts; or
  • It is wholly or mainly used for recreation, and all or part of it is occupied by a club, society or other organisation not established or conducted for profit.

Refusal to grant relief cannot be challenged at a liability order hearing at Magistrates Court. The only recourse against a failed application is for Judicial Review at the High Court.

Charity and Community Amateur Sports Club Relief

Charities and registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the club, and is wholly or mainly used for the charitable purposes of the charity (or of that and other charities), or for the purposes of the club (or of that and other clubs). The Council has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill. Full details can be obtained from us.

Relief for Local Newspapers

The Government is providing funding to local authorities so that they can provide a discount worth up to £1,500 a year for 2 years from 1 April 2017, to office space occupied by local newspapers; following the 2020 Budget this has been extended to include 2020/2021. This is up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits. The relief will be delivered through local authority discretionary discount powers under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988). Eligibility criteria for this relief is set out in the guidance note “The case for a business rates relief for local newspapers”.